SEC Basketball Power Rankings: Auburn remains unbeaten, Florida loses again and more
This week is going to be a bit slower than others around the SEC. There are no games involving SEC teams until Saturday, as the players have Monday-Friday off for finals.
Fortunately, there are some great games Saturday with Tennessee-Memphis, Mississippi State-Kansas State, Alabama-Penn State, Kentucky-Georgia Tech, Georgia-Arizona State and other intriguing matchups.
While we have a little break in the action, let’s take a look at where each SEC team stands in our power rankings as we approach the midway point of December:
14. Texas A&M (3-5, Last week: 14)
The Aggies showed a bit of a fight against rival Texas on Sunday, battling to a 33-33 tie in the 2nd half. However, A&M trailed by 10 at halftime and couldn’t make up that ground, falling to the Longhorns 60-50.
Can Buzz Williams’ squad channel that 2nd-half energy moving forward? They’ll host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Saturday in what should be a very winnable game.
13. Vanderbilt (6-2, LW: 13)
The Commodores’ offense continues to shine, as they scored 90 points against Buffalo in a 90-76 win on Tuesday. However, Vanderbilt has yet to play another major-conference team, and won’t until SEC play starts, so that 6-2 record is pretty hollow.
Add in losses to Richmond and Tulsa and it’s hard to give that 6-2 record any sort of props at this point. Coming off an 0-18 SEC record last year, the Commodores are going to have to prove something to me before I move them out of the bottom 2 on this list.
12. South Carolina (6-4, LW: 11)
The Gamecocks are not a very good team right now. That 6-4 record includes a home loss to Boston, a blowout loss to Wichita State in Cancun and, on Sunday, a 20-point home loss to Houston. That’s not good.
The Gamecocks’ next 2 games are at rival Clemson (on Sunday) and then at No. 9 Virginia (next Sunday). That’s a tough stretch for a team that’s struggling as much as South Carolina.
11. Mizzou (5-4, LW: 10)
It’s tough to get a good read on Missouri. First, on Tuesday, the Tigers lost to Charleston Southern by 8 points at home. That’s one of the most embarrassing losses in recent Mizzou basketball history.
How did the Tigers bounce back, you ask? They went on the road and beat a 6-1 Temple team by 10 points. That prompted coach Cuonzo Martin to deliver this gem of a quote:
Cuonzo Martin after last night's game: "I think we’re as good a team as any in the SEC. But it’s one thing for me to say it. They have to believe it. And they still have to prove it. Our guys embraced that challenge tonight."
— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) December 8, 2019
I think I’ll hold off on calling Mizzou “as good a team as any in the SEC,” but the Tigers are definitely a top 11 team in the conference! I’ll give them that much.
10. Alabama (4-4, LW: 12)
Alabama’s record isn’t the best, but at least the Crimson Tide are challenging themselves under 1st-year coach Nate Oats. The only real indefensible loss the Tide have came on opening night against Penn, losing in Tuscaloosa by 1 point.
The other losses, by 9 to North Carolina and by 15 to Iowa State (both in the Bahamas) are bad, but those are tough teams. The 4th loss came in a true road game against a tough Rhode Island squad.
This is how teams improve. Play tough opponents, figure things out and get stronger for conference play. Alabama plays at Penn State on Saturday, so we’ll see if Oats can pick up his 1st big win as the Tide’s coach.
9. Ole Miss (6-3, LW: 8)
The Butler Bulldogs picked up 2 SEC wins this past week, improving to an impressive 3-0 against the conference. The first was against Mizzou a couple of weeks ago. Then, on Tuesday, the Bulldogs beat Ole Miss 67-58 in Oxford.
Since Butler looks like it would probably be one of the best teams in the SEC if only it were actually in the conference, we won’t punish the Rebels too much for the loss. A bounce-back win over CSU Bakersfield on Saturday was good to see.
Next up for the Rebels is a Saturday home game against Middle Tennessee — where current Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis previously coached.
8. Georgia (6-2, LW: 9)
Another week, another great effort from Georgia freshman Anthony Edwards. In a rout of North Carolina Central, Edwards scored 21 points and dished out 4 assists. Rayshaun Hammonds continues to play great basketball, too, scoring 19 points and grabbing 9 rebounds.
Before we move on, though, check out this Edwards windmill dunk:
The Dawgs travel to Arizona State on Saturday. That’ll be a great road test against another tough major-conference team. We’ll see what Tom Crean’s crew is made of.
7. Mississippi State (6-2, LW: 6)
After a long layoff, the Bulldogs were embarrassed at home on Thursday, losing 74-67 to Louisiana Tech. Tyson Carter had another good game, scoring 20 points, but that wasn’t enough in the loss.
Reggie Perry continues to be a double-double machine, posting 14 points and 14 rebounds against Louisiana Tech to go with 3 blocks. He might need to take on an even bigger offensive workload, though, if the Bulldogs are going to bounce back. They’ll travel to Newark, N.J., to play Kansas State on Saturday.
6. Arkansas (8-1, LW: 5)
The Razorbacks suffered their 1st loss Saturday, losing 86-79 in overtime at Western Kentucky. Both of the Hogs’ road games have gone to overtime this season, which isn’t exactly a good sign.
Jimmy Whitt Jr. continued his strong play, scoring 17 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in the loss. Now, the Hogs will host a Tulsa team Saturday that already has a win over Vanderbilt.
5. LSU (7-2, LW: 7)
The Tigers took care of business against a couple of overmatched in-state foes this week, blowing out New Orleans and Northwestern State by a combined 86 points. You don’t learn a lot about your team playing opponents like that.
Now the Tigers are off all week before hosting East Tennessee State next Wednesday. They’ll also travel to Los Angeles to play USC on Saturday, Dec. 21, in what should be an exciting game.
4. Florida (6-3, LW: 3)
The Gators continue to be a mystery, losing again last week. However, it was at Butler, a ranked team that, as mentioned above, is 3-0 against the SEC this year.
Kerry Blackshear Jr., Noah Locke and Andrew Nembhard continue to play well, but the inconsistency from the star-studded freshman class is hampering the Gators in a big way.
Florida is off this week, but tough tests loom next week, as a trip to Brooklyn to play Providence and a home game against a Utah State team that beat LSU already this season loom large.
3. Tennessee (7-1, LW: 4)
The Vols had a nice tune-up, blowing out an overmatched Florida A&M team on Wednesday in Knoxville. Now, they’ll face rival Memphis on Saturday afternoon.
John Fulkerson is playing some great basketball lately. After scoring a career-high 17 points against VCU, Fulkerson followed with a 15-point effort Wednesday. Clearly, he has taken his coach’s message to heart:
John Fulkerson: “I am never going to go out and look for my own shot —
Rick Barnes: “Which by the way is a problem."
Fulkerson: “I know my role on the team”
Barnes: “No he doesn’t.”
— Mike Wilson (@ByMikeWilson) November 30, 2019
Will he continue his hot shooting against Memphis on Saturday? Lamonte Turner and Jordan Bowden could use the continued help on the offensive end.
2. Kentucky (7-1, LW: 2)
EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards have been pleasant surprises. In a tune-up win over Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday, Montgomery scored 25 points and had 9 boards, while Richards posted a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double.
Check out this dish from Ashton Hagans (who is also playing well) to Montgomery:
Ashton Hagans leaves it on the doorstep for EJ Montgomery. pic.twitter.com/EpJOlx4z7V
— Not Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton2) December 7, 2019
The Wildcats host Georgia Tech on Saturday in a game that will tell us a lot about where this team stands. If Kentucky wins big, it’ll show that the freshmen are coming around and this team is ready for SEC play.
1. Auburn (8-0, LW: 1)
The Tigers narrowly avoided an upset bid by Furman, needing overtime to remain unbeaten and atop these rankings. Freshman Isaac Okoro continues to look like a rising star, though, scoring 18 points and grabbing 9 rebounds to lead the Tigers:
Isaac Okoro (@isaacokoro303) had a nice 2-way game vs Furman : 18 points (5/9 FG, 8/9 FT, 0/3 3 – all C&S), 8 RBs (3oRB), 2 ASTs (6 TOs), 1 STL, and 1 BLK.
Played a bit out of control at times and the 3PT misses hurt (needs to hit C&S), but I thought his overall game was solid. pic.twitter.com/kghrvLgUQN
— Spencer (@SKPearlman) December 6, 2019
Samir Doughty had a rare off night, going 0-for-7 from 3-point range. He won’t have many nights like that, but if he does, the Tigers could be vulnerable.
Auburn hosts Saint Louis on Saturday in a game against a tough mid-major foe. Can the Tigers bounce back and remain unbeaten?